There has been much conjecture about what will become of the Affordable Care Act (and Medicare, and Medicaid, though those will be the topic of another post.) The New York Times recently ran an article suggesting that congressional Republicans may delay the effective repeal by up to three years. Politico reports that a schism is forming among Republicans who disagree about how to go about repealing the ACA. Writing for Mother Jones, Kevin Drum argues with extreme optimism that the repeal will not succeed. He claims a repeal of the ACA would effectively end the market for individual insurance plans thus making it too unpopular to pursue.
What is not under debate is that the incoming administration and the Republican controlled congress will make health care worse in the United States. Insurance will become less available and more expensive, services will be cut, and harm will fall hardest on the poor and the sick.
Christianity, like all major world religions, offers a moral commandment to care for the sick. Christianity, like all major world religions, offers a moral commandment to care for the poor. There is no doubt in my mind that the health care decisions this government will pursue will be deeply immoral. There is no doubt in my mind that these actions will kill a lot of people.
I believe that what is needed is a widespread campaign of moral counsel. Perhaps our politicians are too shameless to be shamed, but such a campaign might shame and disgust those who voted them into office.
Here is what I propose and what I ask you to do over the next six weeks:
1) Find out who are the people you know who get their health insurance through the exchanges and have health insurance because of the ACA. Thanks to the ACA approximately 20 million more Americans have health insurance, so you definitely know someone. I’ve actually started asking people where they get their health insurance.
2) Get permission to write their stories. Talk about who they are, what they contribute to their communities, what having health insurance means to them, and how screwed they’d be if they lost their health insurance. Then publish these stories on Facebook, blogs, and social media.
3) Call your local newspaper and local TV station and demand that they report on the faces and lives of the Affordable Care Act. Contact national news stations and publications and demand the same types of stories.
4) You get bonus points if you share the story of a Trump voter who is insured through the ACA. (There are millions of Trump voters who are in danger of losing their health insurance, too.)
5) Stay in touch with the people you write about. Document their pain, their hardship, their vulnerability, and the harm done to them.
6) If someone you know dies due to lack of affordable health care, make sure that fact gets named at the funeral. Make sure the obituary names lack of affordable health care as the cause of death.